By choosing just one lever or button, Pennsylvanians have had the ability to select either the Democrats’ or Republicans’ entire slate of candidates for more than 70 years. But that would change if a proposal in Harrisburg by state Rep. Eli Evankovich — and 15 Republican cosponsors — becomes law. The House State Government Committee had a hearing Dec. 11 on Evankovich’s legislation to eliminate the straight-party ballot option in Pennsylvania, which would mean voters would have to identify their preferred candidate in each individual race rather than being able to press one button to choose all Democrats or all Republicans automatically. Pennsylvania is one of only 14 states that provides a straight-party option, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Not only would the change reduce some of the polarizing partisanship in elections, Evankovich said, it would encourage voters to review candidates at the bottom of the ballot instead of simply choosing a party’s lineup based on the higher-profile candidates who are running.
“I think that the tool should be in the voters’ hands,” said Evankovich, a Murrysville Republican who is in his second term. “If you want to vote straight party, you’re still welcome to. I think it puts more of the responsibility, rightfully so, in the voters’ hands.”
The straight-party voting provision has been part of the state Election Code since its passage in 1937, said Matthew Keeler, deputy press secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Of the 60,890 ballots counted in the general election last month in Westmoreland County, 26 percent of voters clicked on a straight-party button. Democrats collected 7,187 straight-party ballots, vs. 6,839 for the GOP. Of the 180,867 ballots counted in the general election last month in Allegheny County, 27 percent of voters clicked on a straight-party button. Democrats collected 34,793 straight-party ballots, vs. 13,076 for the GOP.
Full Article: Voting change proposed | TribLIVE.